Student and tutor perceptions on attributes of effective problems in problem-based learning

Nachamma Sockalingam*, Jerome Rotgans, Henk G. Schmidt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


This study aimed to identify the attributes that students and tutors associated with effective PBL problems, and assess the extent to which these attributes related to the actual effectiveness of problems. To this end, students and tutors in focus groups were asked to discuss about possible attributes of effective problems. The same participants were then asked to individually and independently judge eight sample problems they had worked with. Text analysis of the focus group discussion transcripts identified eleven problem attributes. Participants' judgments of the sample problems were then frequency-scored on the eleven problem attributes. Relating the participants' judgments with the entire student cohort's grades yielded high and significant correlations, suggesting that the eleven problem attributes reflect aspects of problem effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalHigher Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This research was supported by Republic Polytechnic, Singapore. We gratefully acknowledge the polytechnic for the support rendered and the participants for their involvement in this study.


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